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Casino developers pool funds for P15-B road proj

By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes (The Philippine Star) Updated July 17, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Four of the country’s biggest conglomerates are pooling their resources to build a P15-billion megastructure that will connect the 100-hectare Pagcor Entertainment City along Manila Bay to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and the Skyway.

The STAR learned that the groups granted separate licenses by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to operate casinos at the Entertainment City are financing P6.5 billion of the projected P12 billion to P15 billion cost of building the bridge/road infrastructure that will connect NAIA Terminal 3-Skyway to the Entertainment City.

The four include Bloomberry Resorts and Hotels Inc. of port operator Enrique Razon that will build the 16-hectare Solaire Manila luxury casino and hotel-resort project; the Tiger Resorts project to be jointly undertaken by Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada in partnership with the Gokongwei Group and taipan Andrew Tan (the latter for land development); Tan’s Alliance Global Group Inc. (Travellers International) for the 31-hectare Resorts World Bayshore project in partnership with Genting Hong Kong Ltd.; and a consortium led by retail king Henry Sy in partnership with Macau casino giant Melco Crown Entertainment-owned by Australian billionaire James Packer and Lawrence Ho, son of Macau gaming tycoon Stanley Ho.

Pagcor chairman Cristino Naguiat Jr. told The STAR that Pagcor and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) are scheduled to sign an agreement this week or next for the project, which will be undertaken without any cost to the government, except probably for the acquisition of right-of-way.

Of the estimated project cost, P6.5 billion will be shouldered by the four proponents while the balance will have to be spent by the group that will bag the contract to undertake the construction of the infrastructure project. DPWH will undertake the bidding for the project, which Naguiat described as a hybrid Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project.

The project will have a ramp to NAIA Terminals 1, 2, and 3 to facilitate the travel of visitors to and from the casinos at the Entertainment City, which Naguiat expects will have an edge over those of Singapore and Macau.

“In Singapore and Macau, there is nothing to see because these places are so small. Entertainment City, on the other hand, will just be a small part of a bigger tourism package. It will become part of the Department of Tourism’s national development plan,” Naguiat added.

Bloomberry’s casino will be the first to go onboard by the first quarter of next year, followed by the Belle-Melco project by the end of 2013. Next will be the Okada-Gokongwei joint venture which will start end of 2014, followed by the Alliance Global casino by the last quarter of 2015 or early 2016.

Pagcor has required all licensees to put in a minimum $1-billion investment in each integrated resort (to be spent before the term of President Aquino ends in 2016), build a minimum of 250,000 square meters of floor area and complete 800 hotel rooms with an average room area of 40 square meters.    

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